Retrieve Free Tennessee Divorce Records (Dissolution Info)

Free Tennessee Divorce Record Search
Find out if someone in Tennessee is divorced, free of charge.

When looking for Tennessee Divorce Records, it’s helpful to know which agencies can help since more often than not, there are many different ways to view and obtain them.

Typically, divorce records may be viewed for free through online databases of family court cases maintained by state or local agencies, while obtaining physical copies may require a fee. To better help researchers find divorce records in Tennessee, this resource provides the information and resources necessary to find this information quickly and efficiently.

Are Divorce Records Publicly Available or Accessible in Tennessee?

Whether you want to find out if someone is divorced, or you are researching divorce records for genealogy purposes, the state of Tennessee allows people to obtain these records. Tennessee vital records law says that all divorces, marriage dissolutions, and annulments must be recorded by a Clerk of Court and sent to the Office of Vital Records.1

When reviewing Tennessee’s disclosure of vital records information law the state prohibits the inspection and disclosure of information contained in a vital record, and the copying of records. However, there are two large exceptions. The first exception is that verified information from vital records may be provided upon request. This means that anyone can request to find out the existence of a divorce, marriage dissolution, or annulment record.

The second exception, under the Tennessee copies of records law, is that certified copies of divorce records must be issued to anyone who can prove a direct interest in the record. Generally, this means that those named on the record, next of kin, guardians, and personal representatives have the right to obtain certified divorce certificates or records.

The law also says that if a person has been denied the disclosure, inspection, or copying of divorce records by a local custodian, an appeal may be made to the Tennessee Office of Vital Records.

Tennessee Vital Records
1st Fl, Andrew Johnson Tower

710 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, Tennessee 37243

Phone: 615.685.4700

Researchers may also view the Tennessee divorce rates provided by the United States Census Bureau. This public chart compiles marriage and divorce statistics reported by residents in the state in 2022. The report states that approximately 23.5% of adults have been divorced in Tennessee.

How To Access Tennessee (TN) Divorce Records

Anyone may access divorce records through the Tennessee Department of Health. The Tennessee Department of Health allows members of the public to order a divorce certificate for a $15 fee. Public divorce records may be ordered in person, by mail, or online.

In Person: Applicants may submit a request for a certificate at the Tennessee Vital Records Office or a county health department. If an applicant elects to submit a request with the county health department, they must do so in the county where the divorce took place.

There are two different types of divorce records available for request. The certified divorce record is only available for those with a proven interest in the record. As described above, this includes those named on the record, next of kin, personal representative, etc.

These records may be obtained by completing the certified Tennessee divorce record application. This application may be notarized, and if so, an applicant does not need to provide additional identification. Otherwise, an applicant must also provide a government-issued photo ID or two copies of alternatives.

A formal application form issued by a health department for the procurement of a certified document verifying marital dissolution, stipulating fields for the spouses' names, date and location of the legal separation, with an option for requesting multiple copies at a set fee per document, and mentions the convenience of a notarization option to bypass additional identification requirements.
Source: Office of Vital Records2

The other type of record available for request is the verification of divorce. This record is available to anyone. Applicants must complete an application for verification of divorce, and provide a government-issued photo ID or two alternatives.3 Payment of $15 can be paid by credit or debit card, check, money order, or cash.

The Tennessee Vital Records Office is open to the public 8:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Friday. Requests made in person are generally processed on the same day.

Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, Tennessee 37243

A detailed highlights the convenient location of complimentary parking available for customers seeking vital documentation, adjacent to a government building identified by its address on James Robertson Parkway, with a clearly marked entrance for records retrieval.
Source: Tennessee Department of Health4

By Mail: Similar to requesting records in person, those interested in submitting an application for a certified copy of the Tennessee certificate of divorce or an application for verification of divorce must submit them to the Vital Records Office addressed above.5 Applicants must also submit a photocopy of a government issued ID or two alternatives, or a notarized application for the certified copy. Payment of $15 may only be made by check or money order payable to the Tennessee Vital Records.

Requests made by mail are generally processed within 4 weeks.

Online: The Tennessee Office of Vital Records has adopted the third-party vendor, VitalChek, to provide online divorce records order services.6 There are additional fees associated with this method, and requests are also generally processed within 4 weeks.

Unfortunately, Tennessee does not offer a free public divorce records search for divorces filed within the last 50 years. Generally, states will offer members of the public a divorce index that contains family court case records. While historical divorce records may be found for free, recent records require individuals to utilize the methods above for obtaining divorce records. More on archived divorce records in a later section.

Searching Counties in Tennessee for Divorce Records

In addition to utilizing state resources, interested persons may also utilize county resources to obtain divorce records. Shelby County, which encompasses the city of Memphis, allows members of the public to look up divorce records for free.

In Tennessee, Circuit and/or Chancery Courts have jurisdiction over divorce cases. In Shelby County, interested persons may look up divorce case information through the Circuit Court case search. Users are only required to input a last name for the search to yield results.

An online form from a regional Circuit Court provides a searchable database interface requiring only a surname or company name for initiating case inquiries, with optional fields for first and middle names, specific date ranges, and types of cases, including a choice for phonetic search and partial name matching.
Source: Shelby County Circuit Court7

Users should also select divorce in the case type drop-down menu to narrow the results to only supply divorce cases. Users may also input an individual’s first name to further narrow results.

The results will inform users of divorce cases for individuals with the name that was input into the search. Individual cases may be searched by clicking on the case ID. This will reveal information about the case, including:

  • Parties and their aliases
  • Divorce Type – whether with or without children
  • Case Status
  • Filing Date
  • Case History

If a divorce was filed in Shelby County, those with a proven interest will be able to obtain a copy of the divorce decree from the Shelby County Courthouse. Certified copies are $5.50 per page while non-certified copies are $0.50 per page. If the divorce occurred before 1999, the record must be retrieved from the Shelby County Archives before a total cost is provided.

Shelby County Courthouse
140 Adams, Room B48
Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Phone: Circuit Court – 901.222.3808; Chancery Court – 901.222.3900

Davidson County encompasses the state capital of Nashville. The Davidson County Chancery Court Clerk maintains divorce records. Divorce cases from 2005 to the present are available to the public for inspection and copying. Interested persons must complete a public records request form.

Copies are $0.50 per page. Certified copies are $5 for the seal and $0.50 per page. Exemplified copies are $10 for the front page and $0.50 for each additional page.

Chancery Court Clerk & Master
1 Public Square, Ste 308
Nashville, TN 37201

Phone: 615.862.5710 ext. 71868

In Knox County, both the Circuit Court and Chancery Court have jurisdiction over divorce cases. Requests for divorce records may be made to either of the courts.

Knox County Circuit Court
400 Main St, Suite M30
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902

Phone: 865.215.2400

Knox County Chancery Court
400 Main St, Suite 352
Knoxville, TN 37902

Phone: 865.215.2389

Both courts are open to the public from 8:00am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday to request divorce records.

The Hamilton County Chancery Court is the records custodian for divorce case records. The Chancery Court provides a free and convenient online court records search that allows anyone to look up divorce cases. Users must input a first and last name for the search to yield results.

A webpage from a county's online court records system, showing a search interface for civil cases, where users can filter by party name or business name, alongside a list of results displaying party names, roles, case numbers, case titles, filing dates, and current status, all presented in a tabular format with options for navigating through multiple pages.
Source: Hamilton County Courts8

The results will display cases based on the name searched. It does not tell the case type, so interested persons should also know the other party’s name to the divorce because they will be listed as the other party in the style of the case column. Researchers may search individual case information by selecting the individual in the party name column.

This will inform researchers of the type of case by selecting the filings tab. It will distinguish between divorce with or without children. Further researchers will learn the filing date, Judge, status, and status date.

Interested persons may also submit a public records request form to inspect or copy divorce records.9 Copies of records are $0.50 per page for uncertified copies. Certified copies cost an additional $5. This form must be submitted to the County Clerk.

Hamilton County Clerk & Master
Attn: Public Records Request Coordinator
625 Georgia Ave, Ste 300
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402

Phone: 423.209.6600

The Rutherford County Chancery Clerk & Master is the records custodian for divorce records in the county.10 Interested parties seeking to view or obtain divorce records must complete a public records request form. There are fees associated with copying records, and the Court provides an estimated cost form so interested persons will know how much the service will be. Both forms must be submitted to the Clerk & Master’s Office.

Rutherford County Clerk & Master of the Chancery Court
116 W. Lytle St., Suite 5101
Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37130

Phone: 615.898.7860

Finding Free Divorce Record Archives in Tennessee for Genealogy Purposes

Historical divorce records in TN are readily available to anyone searching for genealogy purposes or any other reason. The Tennessee State Library and Archive maintains these records.11

Divorce records from July 1, 1945 – December 31, 1972, can be found through the Tennessee State Library and Archive index. Researchers need to provide the name of both husband and wife, and at least a five-year range to search. To search divorce records prior to July 1, 1945, researchers must also provide the county where the divorce took place.

Divorce records from 1796 – 1850 can be searched using the Acts of Tennessee 1976-1850 index. This database contains historical document information on over 22,500 people, including divorces.

This search result display from a historical legislative records database shows entries from the early 19th century, with filters for date and keywords, listing individuals' names, years of acts, chapter and section numbers, along with specific notes indicating the county and nature of the legislative actions, all part of a broader research tool.
Source: Tennessee State Library and Archives12

The library is open to researchers 8:00am – 4:30pm Tuesday – Saturday.

Tennessee State Library & Archives
1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North
Nashville, Tennessee 37219

Phone: 615.741.2764

Additionally, researchers may order historical mensa-et-thoro, or divorce records for $5 if they are Tennessee residents and $10 for out-of-state residents. To order divorce records from July 1, 1945 – 1972, researchers must complete the microfilm copy order and submit to the State Library & Archives listed above.

To order divorce records prior to July 1, 1945, researchers must complete a different microfilm copy order. Researchers may also order divorce records from 1796 – 1850 by submitting a complete printed index search request.

Researchers may obtain the records by mail or by email. Historical divorce records from 1796 – 1850 are free when delivered by email.

Are Common Law Marriages Possible in Tennessee?

A person may not enter into a common law marriage in Tennessee because marriage is controlled by the state marriage license law (Tennessee Code Title 36).13 Although state law deems marriage to only be recognized as one between one man and one woman, federal law requires all states to recognize same-sex marriage.

Individuals may not become common law married in Tennessee, but the state will recognize a union that entered into a common law marriage in a jurisdiction that recognizes it. This means if a couple were common law married in a different state and moved to Tennessee, the state would recognize the couple as married as well.

Tennessee also does not recognize a common law divorce. A dissolution of marriage is treated the same, regardless of if the couple is common law married or not; therefore, common law divorce and dissolution records can be found the same way as any other divorce record as outlined above.

How To Get a Divorce in Tennessee: Filing & Addressing Petitions

When discussing divorce papers, there are several steps and rules that must be complied with before any documents are served. Like most states, there is a residency requirement that says the person filing for divorce or the spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing.14

Alternatively, the one who filed must have lived in Tennessee when the events that gave rise to the grounds for divorce occurred.

Tennessee recognizes grounds for both no-fault and at-fault divorce. Grounds for no-fault divorce are irreconcilable differences and living apart for two continuous years without marital relations and without minor children. Both parties must also sign a divorce settlement agreement that describes how the property will be divided, children’s custody and support, and alimony.

Tennessee does not require a couple to enter mediation before agreeing to terms.

There are several grounds for at fault divorce in Tennessee, including:

  • Adultery
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Willful desertion for a year
  • Abandoning the home
  • Neglecting to provide support despite having the ability to do so
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Impotence
  • Bigamy

There are two types of divorce proceedings in Tennessee – contested and uncontested. Uncontested divorces mean both spouses have agreed to all of the terms to the divorce. Contested divorces mean spouses have not agreed and there will likely be a lengthy and costly court procedure.

There is also a waiting period before a divorce case may be heard: 90 days if there are children under 18, or 60 days if there are no minor children.

The initial Summons and Complaint filed by one of the spouses must be filed in either the county where the two last lived together, where the defending spouse lives, or where the plaintiff lives if the defending spouse lives out of state. The defending spouse will have the opportunity to file an answer after being served with the Summons and Complaint.

There are also fees associated with filing for divorce that vary by county. For example, Rutherford County divorce fees cost $364.50 if the couple has children, and $289.50 if they do not. On the other hand, Davidson County divorce fees cost $259.50 if the couple has children, and $184.50 if they do not.15

A person should contact the county clerk where they plan to file to find out exactly how much it will be.

Whether you want to learn how to file for a legal separation or Tennessee divorce records, this resource provides the necessary tools and know how to access this information through state and local databases for free (in most cases).


1Justia. (2021). Tennessee Code Title 68, Chapter 3, Part 4, Section 68-3-402. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

2Tennessee Department of Health. (n.d.). Application for certified copy of certificate of divorce or annulment [PDF]. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

3Tennessee Department of Health. (n.d.). Application for verification of divorce facts [PDF]. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

4Tennessee Department of Health. (n.d.). Certificates. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

5Tennessee Department of Health. (n.d.). Application for certified copy of certificate of divorce or annulment [PDF]. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

6VitalChek. (n.d.). Divorce records order form. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

7Shelby County Circuit Court Clerk. (n.d.). Person case setup index. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

8Hamilton County Courts. (n.d.). Civil case list. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

9Hamilton County, Tennessee. (n.d.). Clerk & Master’s Office request form [PDF]. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

10Rutherford County Chancery Court Clerk & Master. (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

11Tennessee Virtual Archive. (n.d.). Divorce records. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

12Tennessee State Library and Archives. (n.d.). Acts of Tennessee 1796-1850. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

13Justia. (2021). Tennessee Code Title 36, Chapter 3, Part 1, Section 36-3-113. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

14Justia. (2010). Tennessee Code Title 36, Chapter 4, Section 36-4-104. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>

15Davidson County Circuit Court Clerk. (n.d.). Circuit clerk filing fees. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from <>